The Department of Physics is pleased to announce that the annual Robert Hofstadter Memorial Lectures will be given this year by Alex Vilenkin. Prof. Vilenkin has been doing research in cosmology for about 30 years and has introduced a number of novel ideas to the field. He has published over 170 research papers, a monograph, “Cosmic strings and other topological defects,” and a popular book entitled, “Many Worlds in One: The Search for other Universes.” Vilenkin is best known for his work on cosmic strings, eternal cosmic inflation, and the creation of the universe from nothing. He has also studied the implications of the possible existence of multiple universes.
Born in the former Soviet Union, Vilenkin received his undergraduate
degree in 1971 from Kharkov State University. He was drafted into the
Army and then worked at various jobs, including a night guard at a zoo,
while doing physics research in his spare time. He immigrated to the
U.S. in 1976 as a refugee and received his Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo the
following year. After spending another year as a post-doc at Case
Western Reserve University in Cleveland, he joined the faculty of
Tufts University, where he currently occupies the L. and J. Bernstein
Chair in Evolutionary Science. He also serves as Director of the
Tufts Institute of Cosmology.
Hewlett Teaching Center, 370 Serra Mall, Rm. 200
"Many Worlds in One"
Recent developments in cosmology suggest that the big bang was not a unique event in the cosmic history. Other big bangs constantly erupt in remote parts of the universe, producing new worlds with great variety of physical properties. Some of these worlds are similar to ours, while others are strikingly different and even obey different laws of physics. I will discuss the origin of this new worldview, its possible observational tests, and some of its bizarre implications.
Hewlett Teaching Center, 370 Serra Mall, Rm. 201
"Measures of the Multiverse"
Recent developments in cosmology suggest that much of the universe is in a state of explosive, accelerated expansion, called inflation. We live in a finite "bubble" where inflation has ended, and other bubbles with diverse properties are constantly being formed. All possible events will happen an infinite number of times in such an eternally inflating "multiverse." We have to learn how to compare these infinities, since otherwise we cannot distinguish between probable and highly improbable events, and thus cannot make any predictions at all. I will discuss some proposed approaches to this "measure problem" and some recent progress towards its resolution.
Hofstadter, winner of the 1961
Nobel Prize, was one of the principal scientists who
developed the Compton Observatory, and a professor at Stanford
University for many years until his death
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